Anita Hill, Virginia Thomas, and double-speak

By | October 20, 2010

According to the AP and many other news outlets, Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, recently left a voicemail message for Anita Hill in which she asked Hill to consider apologizing for “what you did with my husband.”

When asked about it, Virginia Thomas said she was “extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago.”

It should be clear to anyone of even mediocre intelligence that, as far as Anita Hill is concerned, it is she, not Clarence or Virginia Thomas, who is still owed an apology “after all these years.”

The only context in which Virginia Thomas’s request makes any sense is if Hill was lying in her testimony to Congress about Clarence Thomas. By asking for an apology, Virginia Thomas is implicitly accusing Hill of being a liar. She is implicitly reiterating all the nasty accusations Clarence Thomas made about Hill during his confirmation hearings and later in his book.

How, exactly, is this “extending an olive branch”?

I see three possible explanations for Virginia Thomas’s behavior:

  1. She is an idiot (which would not be terribly surprising, given that her husband is an idiot).
  2. She sincerely believes that Anita Hill was lying all those years ago.
  3. It’s a publicity stunt.

What do you think?

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10 thoughts on “Anita Hill, Virginia Thomas, and double-speak

  1. Anonymous

    so if her husband is an idiot, and that makes her an idiot, does it stand to reason that if he was a brilliant legal mind, she’d be equally as smart?

    1. jik Post author

      I did not say that if her husband is an idiot, that “makes her an idiot.”

      I said that it would not be terribly surprising to find one idiot married to another one.

      As it happens, it does in fact “stand to reason” that people who get and stay married tend to be near each other in intelligence at either end of the spectrum, because smart people tend to have trouble getting along with stupid people and vice versa.

  2. Ian

    It’s not that only public figures do idiotic things. We all do idiotic things, but no one’s watching you and me.

  3. Seth Gordon

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that Virginia Thomas believes that her husband is innocent. Furthermore, when Justice Thomas’s memoirs came out a few years ago, reviewers noted that he is still bitter over how he was treated during the confirmation hearings.

    The most reasonable explanation I’ve seen is that Mrs. Thomas was ruminating over those perceived injustices and let maudlin feelings get in the way of better judgment.

    1. jik Post author

      … and let maudlin feelings get in the way of better judgment.

      … which is an idiotic thing for a public figure to do.

      Alas, public figures do an awful lot of idiotic things (c.f. Eliot Spitzer).

      I suppose not all of the people who do idiotic things are idiots, so perhaps I could charitably amend my “She’s an idiot” theory to “She suffered a momentary lapse into idiocy.”

  4. Nate

    When one option is “the person is an idiot” I pretty much always pick that one. People are amazingly stupid most of the time.

  5. Quantum Mechanic

    Good to know that you apply a political test to determine people’s intelligence. How reality-based of you.

    Anyhow, I suspect a combination of (2) and (3).

    1. jik Post author

      My opinion about Clarence Thomas’s intelligence has nothing to do with his politics.

      I think he’s an idiot because he almost never opens his mouth during oral arguments, and because when asked about it, he has said that the only reason why his colleagues ask questions during oral arguments is because they like hearing the sound of their own voices. Anyone who would make a public statement like that about the people he’s destined to work with until the day he dies is an idiot.

      I also think he’s an idiot because I think it’s far more likely that Hill was telling the truth than that she invented the sexual harassment to do a political hatchet job on him. Given the assumption that she’s telling the truth, anyone who would act the way he did is an idiot.

      1. ron johnson

        it has been a long time since the Thomas hearings. Did Thomas rape , grop or physical attack Hill. To my recollections he did none of the above. i think he only discuss a porno movie. Given our current media i think it probably would not have meant anything today. Now we do not condem Clinton and we know what he did. I do not think Thomas came close to that. But for the record I think you should explain what Thomas really did becasue It think it has been blown out of proportion espcially given what goes on today and maybe i just do not remember what he did.

        1. jik Post author

          What Thomas did was sexual harassment. No, he did not rape, grope or physically attack Hill, but that doesn’t make what he did “ok” or appropriate. If Anita Hill is to be believed, he propositioned her and then retaliated against her when she rejected him.
          As for “we do not condemn Clinton,” I don’t know about you, but I certainly do “condemn Clinton” for his actions. He was a good president, but he’s also a skirt-chaser, and I can’t condone that kind of behavior. What Clinton did was bad, just as what Thomas did was bad.
          Having said that, there’s a big difference between what the two men did… what Clinton did was consensual, and there’s no evidence that he ever retaliated against anyone who rejected his advances.
          Frankly, all of this is beside the point. I wrote above not about what Thomas did or did not do to Hill, but rather about the outrageousness of Virginia Thomas calling Hill 19 years later and asking for an apology.


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